Executive Summary

Welcome to the Plymouth State University “Climate Action Plan”. The President’s Commission for Environmental Sustainability has been working for two years to develop this report, and we are pleased and excited by the results. The PSU green house gas emissions as defined in Chapter Four are significant at over 21,100 metric tons in 2009. Actions that we have taken to date have made a difference, but we still have a long way to go to meet our commitment of reducing our emission by 50% in 2025 and fully eliminating emissions by 2050. We also have a responsibility to include the topic of sustainability across our curriculum. This report provides the university with a roadmap to achieve all of these goals. As long as this document remains in the forefront of our strategic plan, we believe that we can and will achieve our goals.

Environmental Education

The university has developed an impressive array of research centers, academic programs and courses, cultural programming, student services, student activities, and special initiatives related to sustainability and environmental education. The commission has found a strong foundation for the ongoing growth and development of our environmental initiatives and has identified a host of opportunities for the university community to consider.

Continuing Initiatives

The Institute of the White Mountains initiative will provide core programming that includes research and scholarship opportunities, community partnerships, cultural programming, summer programming, historic preservation, eco-tourism, and outdoor recreation and will enable PSU to more fully utilize resources, facilities, and geographical location that is directly connected to our mission of service and commitment to the environment and sustainability. The Institute of the White Mountains Museum will develop an interdisciplinary archived collection of cultural artifacts representing multiple disciplines and provide opportunities to develop educational outreach, cultural programming, and invite scholarship and research across and between disciplines.

Continue to examine and develop integration of service learning initiatives with environmental initiatives.

Maintain environmental awareness and sustainability practices in PSU Strategic Plan and strategic planning priorities.


Faculty Training Institute – This can be a key vehicle for cultivating faculty ownership, the development of interdisciplinary collaborations, the development of key understandings relative to the integration of environmental themes and topics into existing course content across all disciplines (without changing courses), promoting cross campus discussion, and truly integrating environmental awareness, appreciation, and sustainable practices throughout all of the diverse programming offered at PSU. This training institute could also address the design of dedicated courses, general education programming, first year seminar, and other possibilities not yet identified relative to the development of a comprehensive and systemic environment and sustainability knowledge base and experience at PSU for all students.

Nature Trails – We have a campus and geographical environment rich in an abundance of nature trail opportunities. Moving forward with the formal development of nature trails, signage, and mapping would significantly increase awareness, interaction, and appreciation.

 Public Relations Campaign – Develop and enhance a comprehensive public relations campaign. This could be a very dynamic interdisciplinary collaborative capstone project between environmental studies students, graphic design students, and writing option majors.

Initiatives for Continuing Discussion


Research possibilities for integration of teacher training/education programming with New Hampshire Department of Education initiatives focusing on environmental education.

Sustainable Summer programming for students that will provide opportunity for students across the country to earn a certificate in environmental sustainability while studying green technologies, environmental health, local foods, environmental planning, carbon footprints, natural resources, and leadership. Graduate level programming will offer opportunities for advanced research in environmental science and sustainability.

Family Hostels varying in length from 3-5 days and providing unique summer vacation opportunities in partnership with NH businesses.

Sustainable Studies and White Mountain History that bring arts, science, and humanities together for dynamic summer courses, workshops, mini-institutes, and research opportunities.


The university has a variety of opportunities to explore in the coming months and years, including such actions as further incorporating environmental content into the curriculum in various ways, developing new initiatives in the recruitment of faculty and staff to emphasize commitment to sustainability, improving our website, and the like.

Mitigation Strategies

The university has had considerable success over the last decade at developing projects that have resulted in significant energy reductions and cost savings. The road map is in place to direct our mitigation efforts for the next two decades. Over the next five years, PSU should take the following actions:

  • Continue to focus on better understanding our energy sources and uses.
  • Continue to invest in annual projects from deferred maintenance funding that have an immediate impact on GHG and reduce associated energy costs.
  • Study the options for replacing our fossil fuel-based heating and electrical system and develop a plan and financing for implementation as soon as practical.
  • Develop a number of demonstration projects that will serve as both educational and practical experiments for learning about various technologies as they are developed.
  • Finish the development of construction standards for future new and rehabilitation work.
  • Provide training to all operations on campus to reduce their impact on the campus environment.

Several specific projects should be completed in this period:

  • Complete metering for steam and electricity across the remainder of the campus
  • Re-commission all existing buildings
  • Finish the upgrade and replacement of the underground steam system.
  • Develop minimum construction standards for new and rehab construction.
  • Develop standards for vehicle purchases.
  • Create procedures to insure that all other equipment purchases comply with Energy Star standards.
  • Form a study committee in 2010 to begin planning for a new biomass plant to be added no later than 2014 (consider a community heating options if financially feasible).
  • Form a study committee in 2011 to consider the value of additional geothermal locations on campus for heating and cooling.
  • Introduce demonstration projects annually to demonstrate various technologies that could be implemented on campus and to serve as an academic research activity for graduate and undergraduate students (for example, projects could consider solar, wind, fuel cells, pellet biomass heating in smaller buildings, and the use of cisterns to water campus lawns).
  • Make the Climate Action Plan report an integral part of all campus planning including the updates to the campus Master Plan scheduled for 2014.

During the decade from 2015 to 2025, the university should take these actions:

  • Replace the current heating system with a biomass plant for heat and a portion of the campus electrical load.
  • Work with the NHEC as they comply with GHG laws for renewable energy to balance the university load.
  • Form a study committee to investigate the technologies that will be the best replacement for the engine that uses fossil fuel to create electricity.
  • Form a study committee to review the impact of commuting to campus and develop methods to mitigate some or all of the GHG impact.
  • Install solar or geothermal or possibly wind powered generation on campus to target 2025 GHG goals.
  • Start a task force in 2010 to continue to review the feasibility study, talk with the local schools, Speare Memorial Hospital, and the National Guard Armory to confirm their continued financial interest in a district heating project.
  • Develop a series of financial plans and projections using different fuel scenarios, such as wood chips versus pellets.

In addition, the commission has identified a long list of other actions that would help to mitigate the university’s GHG emissions and enhance its efficient use of energy. They include such actions as installing pellet heating systems, solar hot water systems, information feedback systems on buildings, and the like. These actions are listed in Chapter Five.

Costs and Financing

Because the university’s utility costs have risen from under 2% our budget in 1995 to nearly 9% in 2009, it is critical that we make the changes called for in this report in order to avoid or at least minimize future cost increases. The commission has identified a number of actions it believes we must take to achieve this goal.

  • Commit to an annual investment of $1.5 million for all of our buildings for energy conservation projects.
  • Create an annual fund that supports applications for sustainability type demonstrations, with a goal of $75,000 annually by 2015.
  • Keep our energy conservation and sustainability plan moving forward by researching new alternatives and ideas.

Implementation and Tracking Progress

  • Assign responsibility for implementation of the academic and research elements of the plan to the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
  • Assign responsibility for the mitigation strategy to the Vice President for Finance and Administration.
  • Assign responsibility for an annual assessment of progress to the Director of Environmental Sustainability.
  • Ensure that the annual strategic planning process embraces the goals and objectives of this plan.
  • Ensure that the Master Plan embraces this plan and incorporates the elements of this plan into every element of the future campus.
  • The President’s Commission for Environmental Sustainability should request an annual update on the progress of the plan and report to the President and the campus of the successes and shortfalls.
  • The President’s Commission for Environmental Sustainability should every three years update the CAP report, reassess the goals and objectives, and set new timelines for elimination of emissions.
  • The Director of Environmental Sustainability along with a team from Finance and Administration and Physical Plant Administration should update the CA-CP calculator annually and report the results of this review to the campus and to ACCUP.